Thompson wins World Cup opener at Nakiska 

Whistler skier first in every heat to begin ski cross season with victory

click to enlarge PHOTO BY MALCOLM CARMICHAEL / COURTESY OF ALPINE CANADA - Whistler's Marielle Thompson won Saturday's World Cup ski cross opener at Nakiska despite battling a cold.
  • Photo by Malcolm Carmichael / Courtesy of Alpine Canada
  • Whistler's Marielle Thompson won Saturday's World Cup ski cross opener at Nakiska despite battling a cold.

Whistler's Marielle Thompson beat all challengers, as well as illness, en route to a victory at the first World Cup ski cross race of the Olympic season on Saturday, Dec. 7.

Thompson battled through a head cold to pick up the win at Nakiska, Alta., after finishing first in each of her race heats, including a final that was stacked with three different Crystal Globe winners.

"It's really amazing," Thompson said, with her voice left hoarse by the illness. "I'm so glad that all of the training I did this summer paid off and I'm back on top. I'm super stoked."

After finishing in the seventh of 32 qualifying positions in timed runs on Thursday, Dec. 5, Thompson cruised through each of her race heats, controlling each of them off the start. That included the final, in which Thompson held off defending World Cup champ Fanny Smith of Switzerland and veteran French skier Ophelie David, who were second and third, respectively. France's Marielle Berger Sabbatel was fourth, while Canada's Kelsey Serwa won the small final to finish fifth.

"I was really focusing on my starts and trying to be as fast as I could out of the gate and I managed to get the hole shot every time, which is pretty cool," said Thompson.

The 21-year-old said she didn't seem to be too affected by being sick on Saturday.

"I don't think it (the cold) really bothers me when I'm skiing, but when I get to the bottom I can definitely feel it a lot," she said.

Canadian skiers Georgia Simmerling and Danielle Sundquist finished ninth and 19th respectively.

In the men's event, Canada's Brady Leman took bronze in a race won by France's Jonas Devouassoux. Whistler's Dave Duncan had the next-highest Canadian finish by placing 17th.

See a complete wrap of the World Cup races from Nakiska in Pique on Dec. 12.

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